At Right Path Pain and Spine Center in Davenport, FL, we understand how important properly functioning nerves are to your quality of life. When peripheral nerves are damaged, you can experience a range of symptoms that can make you uncomfortable, threaten your independence, and increase your risk of certain medical conditions, like a heart attack. Today, we’re looking at some of the most common indicators of a nerve injury and how nerve damage can be treated.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Injury?
Nerve injury symptoms vary, but muscle weakness, particularly in the legs and arms, is common. Frequently dropping things you’re holding is another common sign that your nerves are damaged. Moreover, if your nerves are damaged, you may feel significant compression in your feet or hands, like you’re wearing socks or gloves that are too tight. Other signs include:
- Hand tingling or numbness
- Foot tingling or numbness
- Sharp pain in the hands and arms
- Sharp pain in the feet and legs
- A buzzing feeling like an electrical shock
Signs of Autonomic Nerve Damage
The type of nerve fibers that are damaged affects what symptoms you experience. If your autonomic nerves are damaged, activities that are not consciously controlled, like food digestion, thyroid and heart function, and breathing, cannot be regulated appropriately. Therefore, you may experience such symptoms as:
- Severe GI distress
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme blood pressure changes
- Extreme sensitivity to heat
Signs of Sensory Nerve Damage
Your sensory nerves are vital for relaying information about pain, touch, and temperature. When these nerves are damaged, you may struggle to sense temperature changes, and you may become a lot less sensitive to pain.
Sensory nerve damage can also result in numbness or the sensation of pins and needles in the feet or hands. You may also have trouble fastening buttons, maintaining your balance when you close your eyes, and walking.
Signs of Motor Nerve Damage
Your motor nerves are responsible for the regulation of muscles that you consciously control. For example, your motor nerves regulate grasping objects, walking, and talking. When your motor nerves are damaged, you may suffer from uncontrollable muscle twitching. You also may experience muscle weakness or painful muscle cramping.
What Causes Peripheral Nerve Damage?
There are many potential causes of peripheral nerve damage. For example, autoimmune diseases, like Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can damage the peripheral nerves. There are other medical conditions that can damage the peripheral nerves, too. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and diabetes. Furthermore, peripheral nerves can become cut, crushed, compressed, or stretch due to a:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Collision during a contact sport
Tumors, imbalanced hormone levels, and arterial narrowing can also cause peripheral nerve damage. Moreover, nerve damage can be caused by:
Vitamins are vital for your health. Some vitamins, like vitamins B6 and B12 are very important for the health of your nerves. If you suffer from certain nutritional deficiencies, like a vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 deficiency. Your peripheral nerves can become damaged. In some cases, nutritional deficiencies are caused by a poor diet. However, they can also be caused by chronic excessive alcohol consumption or gastric surgery.
Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies because alcohol consumption causes excessive urination, and vital nutrients are flushed out when you urinate. Gastric surgery can affect your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients you consume.
Medications and Exposure to Toxins
Some medications are also known to sometimes cause nerve pain and damage. For example, chemotherapies used for the treatment of cancer and some drugs used to treat HIV have the potential to damage the nerves. Furthermore, the ingestion of toxic substances, like mercury, arsenic, or lead can damage your nerves.
There are a number of ways cancer can damage your nerves and lead to nerve pain. For example, certain cancers can cause nutritional deficiencies, like vitamin B12 deficiency. Additionally, cancerous masses can cause nerve pain by pushing against nerves. Moreover, nerves can be crushed by cancerous masses depending on their size.
How Is a Nerve Injury Diagnosed?
A nerve injury diagnosis starts with an appointment and conversation with a doctor. You should be prepared to talk about your medical history, symptoms, and any surgeries or accidents you may have had. Neurological and physical examinations will also be conducted. Depending on the results of your neurological exam, further diagnostic tests may be conducted.
How Should I Prepare for My Appointment?
To prepare for your appointment, you should write down all of the symptoms you are experiencing. Note how long you have suffered from your symptoms, whether they have worsened over time, and how you were injured. Also, write down all of the vitamins, dietary supplements, and medications you take. Furthermore, you may want to write down any questions you have.
If possible, have a loved one attend your appointment with you. In addition to providing you emotional support, they can help you remember the information you receive.
What Happens If Nerve Damage Goes Untreated?
If your injured nerves are not treated, they can become permanently damaged. If you do not seek treatment for injured nerves in a timely manner, you may experience such complications as:
- Altered sensation
- Pressure ulcers
- Burns and lacerations
- Delayed healing
- Contracture and deformity
- Muscle weakness
- Psychological stress
How Can Function Be Restored?
If your muscles were damaged due to a nerve injury that was left untreated for too long, there are a number of effective ways to restore muscle function. Depending on the severity of your muscle weakness and damage, you may benefit significantly from physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you restore enough range of motion and strength to recover on your own effectively.
Once a lot of your range of motion is restored, exercise is extremely beneficial for the restoration of muscle strength. After all, your muscles only get stronger when they are pushed to fatigue and given the fuel and rest necessary for recovery. Muscle function can also be improved with the help of splints or braces to keep fingers, hands, feet, or limbs in the proper position.
How Is Nerve Damage Treated?
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
There are several ways nerve damage can be treated. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is one such technique. Some of the benefits of MSC therapy for the treatment of injured nerves include relief from chronic pain, improved mobility, and increased regeneration of the nerves. Mesenchymal stem cells can be harvested from a number of donor sites, including muscle tissue and skin tissue.
However, MSCs are most effective when they come from bone marrow. This is because stem cells harvested from bone marrow can become more types of cells than stem cells harvested from other areas. During MSC therapy, mesenchymal stem cells are extracted from the hip bone marrow. Then, these regenerative cells are injected into the problem area. The process is minimally invasive and only takes two to four hours to complete.
PRP therapy is another non-invasive technique that can be used to treat damaged nerves. PRP helps your body heal itself thanks to the healing power of growth factors in your platelets. During this treatment, a small amount of blood is drawn from your arm.
It is then processed in a centrifuge. At the end of processing, what remains is plasma with extremely concentrated levels of platelets. This platelet-rich plasma is injected into problem areas and facilitates natural healing.
How Can I Treat Nerve Pain in the Meantime?
The best way to treat nerve pain is to treat the nerve damage causing the pain. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can try. For example, prescription pain relievers can give you a break from your suffering. However, you should keep in mind that prescription analgesics are only a short-term solution.
Medications designed to prevent seizures, including pregabalin and neurontin, can also provide nerve pain relief. Furthermore, certain antidepressants, like venlafaxine, duloxetine, desipramine, and amitriptyline can minimize the nerve pain you experience. Finally, capsaicin cream is sometimes effective.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Nerve damage symptoms vary. Common signs include regularly failing to maintain a grip on an object you are grasping, feeling like you are being jolted by an electric shock, and feeling pins and needles in your hands and feet. If injured nerves are left untreated, they can become permanently damaged. If you suspect your nerves are injured, contact us today at Right Path Pain and Spine Center in Davenport, FL to schedule an evaluation.